Photo by William Lowery
Southern Miss alumnus Daniel Greer co-owns Jack’s Movie Shack in Laurel with his wife Tiffany, and the two can often be found below the neon glow of an open sign in one of the last movie rental stores in the country.
Daniel and Tiffany Greer grew up in Ellisville, and became high school sweethearts through their love of horror films.
The previous owner of the movie shack was named Jack Adams, so everyone in town affectionately referred to the store as “Jack’s Movie Store.”
“I rented movies [at Dollar-Per-Day Video] from the time I was a toddler,” Tiffany Greer said. “I remember I was banned from renting Ghostbusters because I brought it home so much.”
Daniel Greer said he was usually in Adams’ store twice a week, and he thought Adams was a grumpy old man behind the counter.
Tiffany Greer remembered watching Adams roll cigarettes on the counter, so the place reeked of smoke, and everyone knew where she had been when she came from his store.
When Adams passed away in 2014, his store faced permanent closure, and the Greers were not willing to settle.
The couple drove by each day wishing someone would reopen it, and in 2016, purchased and reopened the movie store under a new name in honor of Adams.
Nestled between a wall of his most highly recommended movies from cinemas past and a countertop decorated with gumball machines and popcorn for sale, Daniel Greer said he found his calling through the movie store.
“I love this,” Daniel Greer said. “My favorite part is getting to share my love for film with people while helping them expand their horizons, nothing’s better than suggesting a movie to somebody and having them come back and tell me that they loved it, that’s my motivation, you know, it’s hard to describe the feeling.”
Daniel Greer believes that among the many differentiating qualities of his store, his movie selection puts any streaming service to shame. He said that even with all of the available streaming services, he can go to any shelf and find something that is not online.
“I’m not going to be a millionaire anytime soon, but that’s what I enjoy about it,” Daniel Greer said. “It’s sharing my love of all things film related and getting to hear about other’s passion for film while introducing a whole new generation to this, a lot of them have never even seen a video store.”
Daniel Greer said that despite the popularity of modern streaming services his regular customers range from all ages, his most excited customers are the children that have never seen a movie store before and adults that remember having video stores.
The Greers said they receive positive reactions from their customers. Many customers live in rural parts of Jones County and don’t have satisfactory internet service to stream quality movies online.
“There’s something to the experience of actually going out and going on the hunt for movies. It’s more fun than sitting on your couch and scanning through the titles on the screen,” Daniel Greer said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen asleep just looking for movies to watch [online].”
The couple ran the store at its original location in Ellisville for two years before moving to the Sawmill Square Mall in Laurel.
“I had a vision of making this ‘nerd central’ for Jones County because there was no other comic book shop in Jones County. We had to drive all the way to Hattiesburg to find a comic book shop,” Daniel Greer said.
Ellisville native Nick Martineau is a Jack’s Movie Shack regular and believes the store has helped shape Jones County for the better.
“I grew up in this store. When I was 11 years old, I remember Mr. Jack called all of the kids from around the neighborhood and said, ‘Hey, this is a place where you can come and hang out and not get into anything bad,’ because the streets had gotten pretty crazy around that time in Ellisville,” Martineau said. “He was trying to keep us out of bad stuff, and since he died, [Daniel and Tiffany Greer] have been doing a great job keeping this place alive.”
In the future, the Greers would love to further expand their store.
“In the next 20 years, it’d be awesome to open a second location if we do well enough financially,” Tiffany Greer said. “We don’t have huge dreams. We don’t expect to be millionaires, but for some people this store fills a need for entertainment. And for some it’s a novelty, but all in all, we’re happy to do it.”